Johor Ruler's Coronation, A Royal Tradition With A Difference

Johor Ruler's Coronation, A Royal Tradition With A Difference

The Johor ruler's coronation ceremony on 23rd March is a regal tradition that is remarkably unique when compared with the royal traditions of the Malay rulers in other states.

Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar's coronation highlights the combination of three rich royal legacies - Malay, English and Islam.

Interestingly, the last coronation ceremony held for a Johor ruler goes back 55 years, the coronation of the late Sultan Ismail (1959-1981) on Feb 10, 1960.

The Johor Council of Royal Court president Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli noted that unlike in other states, in Johor the selection, appointment and proclamation of the successor to the throne would suffice to confirm the installation of the head of state.

Thus the coronation is not part of the process of installing a Sultan but based on the traditions of the Johor royal court, a coronation could be held anytime on the request of the proclaimed Sultan.

Hence, this also explains why there was no coronation ceremony for more than half a century despite the fact Sultan Mahmud Iskandar Al-Haj (1981-2010) succeeded the late Sultan Ismail.

Though the coronation may not be an integral part of the proclamation of a Johor ruler, Abdul Rahim noted that it remained as an important Johor royal tradition that signified a ruler's sovereignty.


The nine ceremonies leading to the coronation start on March 16 and their origins could be traced back to the Malay and Islamic influences.

Abdul Rahim pointed an example, the Siram Tabal (bathing ceremony) on March 21 that is rooted in the Malay traditions. The water used in the ceremony comes from the rivers in the 10 districts of Johor.

"There also other Malay rites like 'bertepung tawar' and many more," he added.

On the eve of the coronation, a prayer and thanksgiving will be held at the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque and the mosques in the districts where the people pray for the well-being of the Sultan and that the coronation event goes on without a hitch.

The crowning ceremony and pledging the oath of loyalty to the monarchs are of English influence he pointed out.


Speaking of the crown, Abdul Rahim went back to the days of the late Sultan Abu Bakar (1862-1895) who modernised Johor starting with his crown.

"In other states, the Malay rulers used the 'tengkolok' or the 'tanjak' as the headdress but in Johor there was none. Thus Sultan Abu Bakar adopted the crown," he said.

Sultan Abu Bakar also adopted many of the English royal regalia apart from the technical and administrative innovation from the English.

The crown worn by Sultan Abu Bakar in 1886 was designed by the one and only royal jeweler JW Benson of London.

"The crown with an oriental design weights 1.6 kilogrammes and is embellished with diamonds and precious stones," said Abdul Rahim.

The four crescent-moon and star combination signifying Islam is at the pinnacle of the crown with the inscription of Allah and Muhammad, a befitting insignia for the Sultan who is also the guardian of Islam in the state.


Apart from the crown, another item used in the coronation ceremony is the royal robe (kain pelayang diraja) that will be donned by Sultan Ibrahim and his consort Raja Zarith Sofiah during the ceremony.

Abdul Rahim noted that the robe that flows from the shoulders to the ground is made of special silk with the couple's children holding to the other end when they follow the royal couple from behind.

"The blue silk robe is specially made in London, stitched with the pepper and gambier motifs along with the word "Sultan of Johor" in Jawi, all using the gold thread," he said.

The coronation will take place at Bilik Singgahsana (throne room), Istana Besar, and will be telecast live to the masses through RTM.

Abdul Rahim also pointed out that Sultan Ibrahim wanted to revive the old royal traditions that is increasingly being forgotten by the younger generation.

"The Tuanku wanted his coronation conducted in an esteemed manner so that the traditions will be appreciated and remembered by the people and the generations to come," said Abdul Rahim.

By Nor Baizura Basri



Post a Comment


Around Us